My cat Max has a bit of a situation.

Max with a bird toy

On the whole he seems fine. Lots of energy, happy to play at any time, eating and drinking same as ever. No itching, not a flea in sight. Happy little kitty.

And yet, for the past few weeks he’s been licking certain patches of his fur much more than needed. Enough that some sections have no long hair at all, only a thin bit of undercoat. 

Max showing one of his balding patches

See those lighter areas on his side? Ordinarily his whole side is jet black with maybe a stray white hair here or there. Those patches look light in the photo because there’s no hair there, so you can see the lighter skin beneath. His other side is even worse, and there are thin patches on his legs as well.

He almost looks like he’s molting, but only in the spots on his body that are easiest to lick. His back and head are fine. He doesn’t seem to have any sore spots.

I haven’t seen him licking his coat enough to thin it out, so he must do it when I’m not around, or when I’m focused on work. He hasn’t even had any hairballs, which I’d expect if he’s ingesting that much hair.

But still, given that he has no other symptoms, I suspect that he’s stressed out and licking himself to calm down. The most significant change I can think of is that in the past month or so, several new neighbors have moved into the building, and though Max can’t see anyone come or go he can hear people moving in and moving around, talking, living nearby. Heis shy about new people, so it might be that he’s just extra nervous with all this new sound.

Max studies the cat in the ceiling

There is another possibility. A few weeks back, Max somehow noticed that at night, the skylight acts like a mirror, reflecting back when you look up into it. Of course there’s only sky to see during the daytime. But at night, it’s like there’s a whole other room up there.

Being a cat, he didn’t get that it was a reflection. He’s seen other mirrors and reflective surfaces and hasn’t had a problem with them. The skylight is different in that he can’t get right up next to it and touch it. 

For little Max, this was quite a discovery, and not a good one. He seemed to think there were other cats and people up there in the ceiling, looking back at him.

For a few days he scooted only around the edges of the room, I guess so the ceiling creatures couldn’t see him. Gradually he’s become braver, so now he walks through the room as he used to, but he still pauses now and again to watch them watching him. He checks the ceiling pretty much each time he enters that room.

So it might be the new neighbors that are upsetting him, or the newly-noticed nightime ceiling cat, or a combination of the two. Or it might be something entirely else.

I’m not sure how worried to be about the hairloss. As long as he doesn’t seem sick, I guess I can let it go and hope that he’ll relax enough to stop grooming so much.

But if you know anything about cats who suddenly seem to molt, I’d love to hear what you know.

2 replies on “A hairy situation”

  1. Back in Chicago we had a cat with the same problem. Special diet didn’t seem to help. Eventually he just got better, but he would relapse whenever we’d be away on long vacations.

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